Sep 20 2010

Goodbye Windows 2000 Server

Category: Linux,WindowsTeknovis @ 6:12 pm

I have been happily using Windows 2000 in my home network for many years. My setup was fairly simple – I had a Windows 2000 Server that acted as a domain controller with roaming profiles enabled, and as a file and printer server for approximately six computers and six mobile devices. It also doubled up as a workstation.

All of this worked very well in my home network, although it was starting to show its age and limitations. However, about two weeks ago the server refused to boot properly after it crashed :( Instead of getting the normal login screen, I got the following error message:

Security Accounts Manager initialization failed because of the following error: Directory Service cannot start. Error Status: 0xc00002e1. Please click OK to shutdown this system and reboot into Directory Services Restore Mode, check the event log for more detailed information.

It appears that the reason for this is that my Active Directory became corrupted due to the crash (see Directory Services cannot start” error message when you start your Windows-based or SBS-based domain controller and Err Msg: Security Accounts Manager Initialization Failed Because of the Following Error: Directory Service Cannot Start).

Unfortunately, I do not have a backup of my Active Directory. More importantly, I do have a complete backup of all my data :)

Rather than rebuilding everything in the same way I have decided to use the opportunity to do some upgrading :)

So now I am going to install Ubuntu Desktop on my server. I am then going to install VirtualBox. This will be my host server.

Next I will create two virtual machines to run on my host server:

  • The first virtual machine will be Ubuntu Server, and it will act as my domain controller (using Samba).
  • The second virtual machine will also be Ubuntu Server, and it will act as my file server (again using Samba).

My main motivation in doing this is that it will make backup trivial (just copy the entire virtual machine), and it removes my dependence on hardware!

Now all I need to do is start implementing this great plan :)

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Sep 03 2010

Ikea Based Linux Cluster

Category: Hardware,LinuxTeknovis @ 7:31 pm

I have a friend who is a huge fan of all things coming from the template of Ikea :) (I am slowly trying to get her to become an Ubuntu fan also :) )

Anyway, she knows of my interest in all things computer related, so she sent me a link to an article describing how to convert a piece of Ikea furniture into a Linux cluster: What’s with Helmer, the 24 core Linux cluster?.

Actually, the Ikea Hacker blog is pretty interesting :o

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Mar 14 2010

Virtualising my Laptop

Category: Hardware,Linux,WindowsTeknovis @ 2:41 pm

I want to buy a new laptop for myself. I need it! My old one is too big and heavy, the screen is losing its contrast, and the battery lasts for approximately 30 seconds :(

In the past I tended to buy high-end laptops on the basis that they would last for longer. This worked to a certain extent, but this time I want to try a new approach. I am going to buy a relatively low-end laptop, but replace it more frequently. The disadvantage of this approach is that it is very time consuming to setup a new computer.

Last year I started experimenting with using Ubuntu within VMware as my main desktop operating system on and old computer. I was very impressed with its speed and stability. So I have decided that I am going to virtualise my entire desktop on the new laptop. The advantages of this approach are:

  • Moving my computer from one piece of hardware to another becomes trivial. This is useful for when I want to upgrade my laptop in the future. It also means that I can put my computer onto an external hard disk.
  • Backing-up my computer also becomes trivial. I am thinking about backing it up automatically every night!
  • Snapshots can be taken before I install any software on a test basis. I can then roll-back my computer if I do not like the new software.
  • It provides my computer with a lot of extra security from network based attacks.

My overall requirements for my new laptop are that it supports three different virtual machines:

  • I want to start using the Ubuntu based virtual machine as my main computer. I am waiting for Lucid Lynx 10.4 LTS.
  • I am currently using Windows 2000 as main my operating system. I think it is great ;)
  • Unfortunately, I have one program that I need to use regularly, and this program requires Windows XP (or later) :(

I will use NAT to network all three virtual machines most of the time. However, sometimes I will need to use the Windows 2000 virtual machine in bridged mode so that it can be a first class member of my domain.

Therefore, the overall architecture of what I am trying to achieve should look like this:

Laptop Virtual Architecture

Laptop Virtual Architecture

Now that I know what I want to achieve, I just need to find the best way to realise this!

Hardware

I am currently considering buying either a Dell Inspiron 1545Inspiron 15 Intel Core i, or a Studio 15. I am a Dell fan, and a 15″ screen is the best size for me. I will get 4GB of RAM, and either a 350GB or a 500GB hard disk.

I will get one of the cheapest processors available. I am currently considering either the Intel Pentium Dual-Core Processor T4400 or the Intel Core i3-330M. I will probably choose the latter, because it seems to have better support for virtualisation because it supports VT-x according to its specification. In practice I do not know if this will provide a noticeable benefit.

In terms of form-factor, I dislike the idea of a number keypad on a laptop. Therefore, I will probably go for a Studio 15.

I am going to have to buy an external card reader, because none of these laptops support Compact Flash cards :( My cameras all use Compact Flash :o

I wonder how the host operating systems sees the integrated web camera. I hope that it appears as a standard USB device, so that it can easily be shared with the virtual machines.

Host Operating System

My requirements for the host operating system are:

  • It must be very secure, because I will use my laptop in a lot of public networks.
  • It must be easy to connect to file servers. This is important, because I will need to back-up my virtual machines.
  • It must have a software based firewall that is very easy to configure precisely.

I think that the clear winner here is Ubuntu with Firestarter. If my Linux skills were better I would use Debian instead :o

The only question I have is whether I should use the 32bit or the 64bit version of Ubuntu?

Virtual Machine Software

The two options that I am considering for this are VMware Workstation and VirtualBox. My main requirements are that the virtual machine software is secure, and that it supports VT-x. I think that both do!

However, there are still some issues that I have not resolved:

  • Should I use the 32bit version or the 64bit version?
  • Which offers better performance?
  • Will they both support my hardware equally well?
  • Is there a risk of becoming locked into one of these products?
  • How is Hyper-threading supported? Presumably, the virtual machine software would think that it has four cores to distribute to the virtual machines. However, in reality it would only have two. This makes me think that I should disable Hyper-threading.
  • Does the virtual machine file format change with each new release of the virtual machine software?

Cost is not really an issue here.

Guest Operating Systems

As I wrote above, I will use Ubuntu, Windows 2000, and Windows XP on my virtual machines.

My questions relating to the guest operating systems are:

  • Should I choose the 32bit or the 64bit version of Ubuntu?
  • Will the OEM version of Windows XP that I got with a previous Dell computer install into a virtual machine without lots of registration issues?

If anybody has any opinions, experience, advice, or answers relating to any of this then I would love to read them!

Thanks!

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Aug 09 2009

Ubuntu Netbook Remix Display Resolution on Dell Inspiron 10v

Category: Hardware,LinuxTeknovis @ 9:29 am

I bought a Dell Inspiron 10v last week because I was really impressed with its weight and size. It came with some version of Windows XP, but I removed this and I installed Ubuntu Netbook Remix 9.04 instead. I decided to try this because I liked the user interface, and I thought that it might extend my battery life.

Everything appeared to installed correctly, except the display driver :( The maximum resolution that I can specify is 800×576. However, the 10v has a native resolution of 1024×576!

This is driving me mad! I posted a comment on the Ubuntu form (see Ubuntu Netbook Remix Display Resolution on Dell Inspiron 10v), but I have not got any responses yet :( I would love to know if anybody has got a 10v to work at this resolution! At least then I would know it is possible!

Unfortunately, if I do not find a solution soon I will have to revert to Windows :(

I will keep my blog updated with any progress that I make.

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Jul 08 2009

Google Chrome OS

Category: LinuxTeknovis @ 1:43 pm

The big news on the Internet today is that Google has announced the launch of a new operating system for web applications. This new operating system is currently called Google Chrome OS, and the official announcement is Introducing Google Chrome OS.

Google Chrome OS appears to be the Chrome browser built on top of a Linux kernel. Therefore, there is some debate regarding whether this really is an operating system or not :o

I think that it certainly will make the operating space more competitive, which is a good thing!

For more information about this see Google plans Chrome-based Web operating system, Google Chrome: Redefining The Operating System, and Google polishes Chrome into netbook OS.

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May 11 2009

Linux Articles

Category: LinuxTeknovis @ 12:43 pm

I read two interesting Linux articles this morning. The first article provides a very general introduction and overview of Linux. It is The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Linux, and it contains four parts:

The second article discusses several different Linux distributions in detail. I will still use Ubuntu, but if I had to choose another I would choose Fedora. Regardless, the article is interesting to read. It is There’s Way More to Linux than Ubuntu: 8 Distros Compared.

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May 07 2009

Ubuntu or Kubuntu – The Verdict

Category: LinuxTeknovis @ 8:28 pm

I recently wrote that I intend to start using either Ubuntu or Kubuntu as my desktop operating system in Ubuntu or Kubuntu. Since then I have downloaded the 9.04 version of both operating systems. I installed both of them simultaneously on my main computer as guest operating systems using VMware. I also installed each of them as the main operating system on a spare computer that I have. Both operating systems install very easily with very little user interaction, and they both correctly identified all of my hardware. That impressed me, because I often hear horror stories about Linux and hardware!

After using both operating systems for the last few days I have come to the conclusion that they are both excellent. However, I need to choose only one of them! So ultimately I am going to choose… (drum roll) … Ubuntu!

My reasons for choosing Ubuntu are mainly:

  • It seems to have much more official support.
  • It seems to have a greater user-base, and therefore there is more information about it online.
  • I felt that the applications that came with Ubuntu were more complete. I generally prefer applications that have very limited, but specific, functionality.

The greatest appeal of Kubuntu was the lovely KDE interface. I thought that the default GNOME interface was very bland, but luckily it is very configurable. I will blog about the changes that I made to it.

I found solutions to all of my initial problems online. The Internet really is great for these things! However, there are some deployment type issues that I do not know how best to deal with them.

  • On my Windows installations I like to create three logical drives: The C drive is used for the operating system; the D drive is used for the applications; and the E drive is used for the data. Ideally the C drive is on its own dedicated physical disk for performance reasons, and all other logical drives can be on a single physical disk. The use of these logical drives makes upgrading very easy. I do not yet know the best way of configuring an Ubuntu installation with multiple physical and logical hard disks.
  • On my Windows installations I store all my data in a single logical drive. Therefore, there are two locations that are associated with my user account: my settings and my data. My current understanding is that my user settings and my user data are all stored in the same location in an Ubuntu installation. This seems a bit messy to me!
  • I currently use the roaming profiles features of Windows so that I can log into any computer on my network and I will have my most recent settings. I do not know how to implement this on an Ubuntu installation.

My current intention is to keep using Ubuntu as a guest operating system until I feel confident enough to wipe my hard disk and use it as my host operating system! I will keep blogging about my progress here!

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Apr 22 2009

Ubuntu or Kubuntu

Category: LinuxTeknovis @ 9:08 pm

The latest versions of Ubuntu and Kubuntu will be released tomorrow. These will be version 9.04, and they are known as Jaunty Jackalope.

I have never used Linux as my main desktop operating system before, but I have had limited experience of using it on servers. My main reason for wanting to try it is that I am getting tired of all the bugs, security weaknesses, and limited functionality of Windows. My reasons for choosing Ubuntu or Kubuntu are that they both come ready for use, and I know that they are configured securely! So I think that now is a great time to try them!

My initial plan is to install both operating systems on my computer using VMware. I will then start using them as my main operating systems until I can decide which I prefer. At that stage I might format my hard disk, and reinstall ;) The main applications that I will need are:

My understanding is that the main difference between Ubuntu and Kubuntu is the window managers that they use (GNOME versus KDE). However, reading the documentation they both seem to come with different application sets. This is confusing me slightly. I am also not clear why they both need to reinvent the browser!

Hopefully, all will become clear over the following weeks ;) I will keep writing about my progress here!

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Apr 19 2009

Linux Virus

Category: Humour,LinuxTeknovis @ 9:39 am

I have never used Linux as my desktop operating system, but I am currently in the process of changing that. I hope to write about it here.

So I thought that I would start with some humour! I recently came across this really good, but nerdy, joke: “Why GNU/Linux Viruses are fairly uncommon” from Charlie Harvey.

Enjoy!